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Newspaper Watch Extracts:
20 June 2016
Shilpy Arora's report on page 2 of Times of India highlights-”Indoor pollution levels in city alarming, finds study”. She cites a study conducted by a private hospital and NGO in the city of Gurgaon. Not surprising, houses in posh DLF city have double the satisfactory PM2.5 levels, but hang on, don’t educated, well off people live here? A friend of SARCAJC points out to the use of banned pesticides in house gardens, so toxic to the respiratory system that one can't breath. When a complaint was made, the owner lady (who takes tuition of kids in her house) showed her ignorance about the banned toxic pesticide and blamed the gardener, though she herself had asked the gardener to spray the pesticide every week since last two months and had paid him for this service. Banned pesticides is a status symbol? Alas, there is no effective law in India to stop this menace that causes havoc with public heath, specially of neighbours. In places like New York, Louisville one can dial a telephone number to report foul smell. In United Kingdom there is realisation that -“Offensive odours and smells also contribute to the level of air pollution in our local communities. They may be harmful to our health and affect the use and enjoyment of property” and there is environmental protection Act to deal with it firmly. However, in India, public awareness is extremely dismal. One friend of SARCAJC told that police did not take action against neither the owner nor the gardener who used toxic banned pesticide in the house garden (made on encroached government land) in Gurgaon, DLF city. Nor, anyone has been round up for leaving construction material like sand on roads in hyped posh DLF city in Gurgaon. Is anyone listening?
5 June 2016
World Environment Day
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s advertisement features a photograph of an elephant and a rhino but without any wildlife environmental background. The punch line reads- “Wildlife is our pride. Let us stop illegal trade in wildlife”. With nature in background, the advertisement by Indian Railways carries a punch line- “Going green with to build a healthy planet”. In 8 bullet points lists measures to reduce carbon footprints. Another advertisement by Indian Railways informs of “Tiger Express” with punch line- “Our promises are on track…Explore India’s natural wonders with Indian railways”. A unique initiative indeed, but hang on, the date of start of journey is today at 15:00 hrs from Delhi. Will interested people get sufficient time to arrange for this 6 day journey after reading the advertisement in the morning? The advertisement by Delhi government features a sparrow with punch line-” Let us take a pledge on world environment day” another ad is about rainwater harvesting. The advertisement by Haryana State Pollution Control Board in the background of nature, birds and tigers, also tells-”Go wild life. Zero tolerance for illegal wildlife trade”. The advertisement by Government of Maharashtra shows 2 situations- “Barren future and sustainable future”. And tells readers- “You decide”. This ad stands out as it talks about sustainable development coined by Brundtland Commission. Very few ads by private sector have appeared on this occasion, wonder why? One of the exception is a large advertisement by Medimix soap in DNA newspaper.
24 May 2016
A Poisoned Country?
Centre for Science & Environment’s new study points to presence of possible cancer-causing chemical in bread in India. 84 per cent (32/38) samples were found with potassium bromate/iodate in the range of 1.15-22.54 parts per million (ppm). 79 per cent (19/24) samples of packaged bread, all samples of white bread, pav, bun and ready-to-eat pizza bread and 75 per cent (3/4) samples of ready-to-eat burger bread were positive. Products of all five popular multinational fast food outlets like KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Subway and McDonald’s were found positive with potassium bromate/iodate. DNA informs -”...Bread industries use potassium bromate and potassium iodate in for treating flour, substances banned in the 1990s across the European Union, and later Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Nigeria, Peru and Columbia…”. The editorial board of New York Times informs that US Congress is finally getting serious about hazardous chemicals in household products & industrial goods- " Congress Moves, Finally on Toxic Chemicals". But why India has not banned potassium bromate and other hazardous chemicals also used in household & industries? Is public health not a priority? However, none of the newspapers scanned today in India, carry editorial on this critical issue.
13 May 2016
The Supreme Court of India, recently, in a 53-page order pulled up the government for the “lack of will” in combating drought. “An ostrich-like attitude is a pity, particularly since the persons affected by a possible drought-like situation usually belong to the most vulnerable sections of the society,” It held that declaration of drought is not a complicated affair but a manageable exercise, which could have appropriate conclusions based on scientifically drawn data, which required use of modern technology to make an early determination of a drought or drought-like situation after doing away with “colonial methods and manuals that follow a colonial legacy. Today, editorial in Rajasthan Patrika has come up with heading- “sheet of silence “and notes- “ The tragedy of our nation is that we have linked drought with politics. People die but political parties search for politics in this too. The remark by Supreme court on approach by state governments on this should be understood”. While Hindustan Times editorial is with heading- “When ideas and will have dried up”. It ends-”There is absolutely no time to lose and play dirty politics. It is emergency situation; and like in any crisis, the centre and state will have to work with whatever is available”. Whatever is available? Isn’t drought not a man made failure, with no concrete efforts to conserve water to halt the depleting water table. Isn’t there a need to relook at so called “Green Revolution” led agrarian policies? Why isn’t afforesting s priority? Why majority of newspapers don't bother to focus on real issues in depth?
Must read on editorial page of Daink Bhaskar - “Determination to get back greenery and happiness” where efforts of Prof. Rajashekhran and Shubendu Sharma are highlighted.
Today, the front page of Asian Age shows a colored picture of spoonbells on “dry bed of undale lake, near Karad, Maharashtra..” The Hindu has carried a colored photograph of a squirrel drinking water from earthen pot. The birds and animals too feel thirsty, but they can't approach any court or political party for relief. We appeal to all to provide water and food to birds in individual capacity in homes & around.
Here is a squirrel drinking water from a diya that we have kept.
6 May 2016
The front page of Hindu has carried a news report by Radhakrishnan Kuttoor with heading-”Good Samaritan runs into wooden bureaucracy”. He reports that a elderly labourer from Kerala had donated some of his inherited land to 10 landless families, is being punished by imposition of fine worth Rs. 46,396 for cutting tree branch in his own property, which the revenue department claims to be government land. However, at the end of news report, it is mentioned he is a bachelor, but then read on- “Of the 1.63 acres that he inherited from his father, he gave 1.13 acres of this three daughters and donated land as an eco conservation-cum-charity gesture”. A bachelor with three daughters! Will Hindu’s reader’s editor note?
27 April 2016
Do you care?
Team SARCAJC traveled in the evening on National Highway 8, that connects Delhi to Gurgaon to find out whether scheme of Odd-Even for cars made pollution less in Delhi. The entire stretch was so polluted that breathing noxious air was sheer punishment for us. Not only NH 8, the stretch from diplomatic area in Delhi to Delhi airport was also severely polluted. Does someone care? Today, Times of India on page 5 reports-”Odd -Even Redux” in bold red colour. The daily pollution watch reveals that PM2.5 levels peaked again yesterday, higher than 2015 levels, same was seen for Ozone, hovering around poor quality, air quality also deteriorated. It seems the Delhi government is complacent after receiving international recognition for ‘Odd Even’ for cars and is turning blind eye for rising pollution levels. Definitely, imposition of air emergency is needed; however none of the mainstream newspapers or prime TV channels are raising, but who cares?
22 April 2016
Today is world Earth Day. However, why main stream newspapers are not celebrating? What’s the meaning of ‘Reader Engagement Initiative’ on page 7 in DNA (Mumbai) on this occasion? Seems more like a sponsored one full page carrying news and advertisement of The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). The ad comes with a punch line on World Earth Day-”Trees for the Earth. Let’s get planting”. And the statement seems to be coming from polluting industries - “. …Today, environment-related compliances are seen as one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to doing business. The biggest hurdles include securing permits, consent and clearances. This has hampered India’s growth, as well as the industry’s contribution towards the economy…”. Not surprising Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has recently been honoured with ‘Ease for Doing Business, as well for its activity in Make in India’ initiatives, incidentally,same State is riddled with drought like conditions but cricket tournament be played? Strange, there is an advertisement from any Central Environment Ministry in Times of India, though this full page ad informs that "National Panchayat Raj Day" is two days later.
A friend of SARCAJC informs that he has recently planted 4 trees in community park in Gurgaon and is taking care of them, even giving water to them everyday. He had also planted three trees, eight years ago: of which Mango tree will give mangoes this time, feast for the birds indeed! Yes, earth day is everyday and such green initiative needs to be encouraged. However, should this be not highlighted in Advertisements on this Day by Ministry of Environment, forget articles by so called celebrity journalists, atleast? It seems politics takes preference over earth matters, as earth is not a reader (read voter?).
Admiring flowering Mango tree, planted eight years ago by Mr. Chandra Sharma
19 April 2016
A half a page advertisement had appeared in Times of India, 12/4/2016 on the occasion of “3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger conservation” with the heading-“International meet to save wild tigers”. “Wild" Tigers! Tigers were thought to be wild animals, anyway?
Take a clue, from our Newspaper Watch archives, 29 May 2007-
According to Wildlife Institute of India, since 2002, the tiger count has declined by sixty percent. What’s the solution? Not a National Wildlife Crime Bureau but a Chinese Model! India seems to be star stuck by China, after SEZs, military, now its tiger farming. The idea is to replicate the Chinese 'successful' model of tiger farms. And who’s advocating this ‘great’ idea- Environment & Forest Secretary. But a recent International Fund for Animal Welfare report had stated that tiger body parts were being sold from these farms to wine distilleries or restaurants serving tiger delicacies (Hindustan Times). So what’s the harm if the country can earn some foreign exchange by trading some parts of tiger- many high growth enthusiasts may argue. Stretching this never ending human greed- why protect tigers or as a matter of fact any animal living in forests, when the proposal for the SEZ-forests in on! In quest for higher and higher profits, it seems we have forgotten that we share this planet with other living beings- who also have a right to live in their natural habitat.
The advertisement in Times of India (12 April 2016) highlights National Efforts, Project Tiger: The Impact and International Efforts. Under ‘National Efforts” the first highlight is “India is home to 70% of the world’s tiger population”. . Under “Project Tiger : The Impact”, the first highlight is “30% increase in tiger numbers since 2010”. And under “International efforts” the first highlight is “Founder member of the Global Tiger Forum of tiger countries”. Apart from small logo of tiger, the advertisement sans any pictorial depiction of Wild Tiger, though coloured photo of smiling Prime Minister of India is present! Celebrating increase in number of "Wild" Tigers? However, how reliable is methodology of collection of statistics regarding Wild Tigers? Are all tigers tagged for identification? How are new ones identified and tagged? Is there a reliable database open for Tiger loving humans in tiger & non tiger reserves? Read Jayashree Nandi’s write-up-“India may send tigers to Combodia” (Times of India. 12/4/16) along with Ignatius Pereira’s-"Biologists question claims on wild tiger population” (Hindu. 19/4/16)
20 March 2016
Hindu had asked- Where have the sparrows gone? (14/9/2014). DNA had also raised a question- “Where has the chirpy sparrow gone? (19 March 2010), while Deccan Herald had informed- “House sparrow listed as an endangered species (24 June 2010). Has the situation improved since? None of the 14 newspaper scanned, inform of this today- world sparrow day. Glad to inform that the little, cute, chirpy sparrows exists in abundance, where we are working from!
11 June 2011
It is believed that today, river Ganga, that accounts for one-fourth of India's water resources came to this earth from heavens (read birthday of river Ganga). Many newspapers in Hindi have reported significance of this day (Ganga Desherra). In Nai Duniya, Hariprasad Dube feels that Ganga is the culture and life line of India but worries that all life form is suffering due to pollution in this river and we have to get rid of pollution at all cost. Narayan Mishra beleives that today a dip in Ganga will get you moksha and flood of people from all walks of life seem to approve it. But our greed has not spared even this holy river. Recently the World Bank had approved a $1 billion credit and loan for cleaning the river Ganga. However, given the history of leakages, what is the guarantee this time around, Ganga Action Plan which was launched way back in 1985, will actually work? The Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan, who himself headed the bench, had asked; “Where the money gone. All these money has been eaten away. These funds could have been easily used for the poor people”. What more can be said; life at the bank of river flows and still gives tranquility. Watch the accompanying video clip.
22 April 2011
At least one day every year, we bother to remember – Earth, isn’t Earth taken for granted planet around? Well, this year round, few advertisements have appeared on this occasion, in a few leading newspapers in the capital. Guess who is the leading advertiser- National Council of Science Museum! Surprisingly, couldn't find any ad by Ministry of Environment in any 24 newspapers scanned today. The punch line of National Council of Science Museum explains it all- “Mother Earth is under pressure. Let us protect it”. Ajesh Kumar’s write-up in Nai Duniya blames global warming for imbalances in eco-system. While Kumar Vijay argues in Rastriya Sahara- “...time has come to make Earth green and pollution free. Till now, we have taken from Earth not have not given anything. Now time has come to give something back. If we give something back, our future generations will benefit....It is necessary that we all become sensitive towards Earth”.
16 April 2011
Dhananjay Mahapatra informs on page 18 in Times of India that Supreme Court’s Environmental panel has observed that rampant illegal iron ore mining with political & bureaucratic patronage in state of Karnataka has cheated the exchequer of Rs. 152.45 billion since 2003and now is close to exhausting its mineral reserves. But why did it take such a long time to wake up ? Is this just a make up exercise? Dhananjay fruther informs that though panel of supreme court has called Bellary the hotbed of illegal mining but has avoided naming mining magnets and ministers.
28 March 2011
Go with the Flow: Many newspapers have published a photograph of Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister for Environment & Forest, wearing a red coloured life jacket on a boat on river Yamuna. He is seen smelling (not tasting) its water. What it a smooth ride? Nope, his boat got stuck & had to be pulled out. Net result of boat ride- Who is responsible for pollution in the river and when will Yamuna be clean? Take a clue:
Jairam angry on attitude by Haryana (Nai Duniya)
Delhi is responsible for pollution in Yamuna: Ramesh (Aaj Samaj)
Yamuna will be cleared by 2015 (Hindustan)
Clean Yamuna not before 2015, says Jairam (Times of India)
It seems this boating expedition was PR exercise to announce an extension of the deadline for Yamuna clean-up. Point to ponder- are we really serious about clean up deadlines? Take a clue from SARACJC'A Newspaper Watch on earlier extensions :
31 January 2008
Misleading Advertisement: Many clean up attempts have been made in the past costing billions of rupees but pollution level in river Yamuna, the lifeline of Delhi, is bad as ever- Yamuna is more or less a sewage canal. The affidavit filed in the Supreme Court of India by the government states that Yamuna clean up task would not be completed before 2012. This is contrary to the claim made by the government in advertisements, according to which Yamuna would be cleaned by 2010.
The Supreme Court of India has pulled up the Delhi government for placing advertisements that claimed that the river would be cleaned by 2010- “Let DJB (Delhi Water Board) and the Delhi government not mislead the public and the Supreme Court while spending thousands of rupees of public money” (Times of India).
10 March 2011
Health Watch: The front page of Hindustan Times shouts “Rat poison in your veggies”. The Delhi High court had noted that that fruits and vegetables sold are laced with four banned pesticides. A friend of SARCAJC feels public health is not seen as a priority and moreover a few random checks will not help as misuse of pesticide is rampant. But with today’s publicity, the problem of high price of veggies and fruits might be solved – health conscious scared consumers will stop eating them, demand will reduce and hence the equilibrium point! But what about other problems? Surely not eating fruits & veggie is not a solution, need stringent measures to stop this poisoning of food. Another friend of SARCAJC suggests rat poison veggie and fruits should be exported as silent poison to curb the menace of rats & other insects. Point to ponder- what will Caty Larry do then?
5 February 2011
Never say Never: What is the aim of economic policy- high economic growth or sustainable development? Let's again go back to the definition of sustainable development -" Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present generations to met their their own needs". Sounds to relevant for 'Our Common Future'. Then why in quest for high economic growth the issue of sustainable development is mostly given a low priority? The ministry of Coal has demanded that entire oil fields should get automatic clearance once they are allocated to private developers or miners. Nitin Sethi reports in Times of India that after relenting on controversial Posco clearance, Union Minister of Environment and Forest seems to be in no mood to bend backwards further.
The editorial of India Express feels that the notion of environment vs growth is fiction- self-serving and self-defeating-" It has become easy to believe that we need to choose in some imagined toss-up between the environment and growth. But that is a false,self defeating choice-because the two reinforce each other. That is the point we seem to have missed in India...". Easy to say, Jairam Ramesh has been under fire for quite a while. Last year, Jairam Ramesh told NGOs at the sixth public consultation organised about Green Mission at Indian Forest Management Institute -" I am being considered as Ravana to the development projects... Our department is being shown as the enemy of development which is not the case". In a recent interview to sidharth Pandey, he conceded- " There is a trade off between environment and growth. ..So far we have taken environment for granted...It is not easy to be criticized all the time but you know as I just said I have to develop my thick skin...we are fighting over issues, we are fighting over principles, we are fighting over laws..". But of late, he has given green signals to many projects, he was opposed to! Point to ponder- will Jairam again relent ,after a while? Nevertheless, it will be fair to pass on one clear cut credit to Jairam -" I hope in the last 20 months inspite of all the controversies I seem to have created at least public awareness and public sensitivities and public concerns on this issue has been heightened.